Larry Bird was looking as serious as ever, donning a baseball cap and white polo, sitting with his arms crossed in between Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlisle and assistant GM Kelly Krauskopf at the team’s practice facility watching a pre-draft workout.
Bird’s appearance at that practice a couple weeks ago, May 12 to be exact, didn’t raise too many eyebrows. It was probably just a former Pacers coach, president and consultant taking in a little basketball in his home state.
But Bird remained in the building the next day and the next and some started wondering. Was it more than that?
Yes it was.
“Larry Bird is back in the building serving as a consultant,” the Pacers tweeted with a photo of Bird Tuesday.
And that tweet invoked some very strong opinions from fans, some nice and some not so nice.
Bird’s Back: The Reaction
Indiana loves Bird, the homegrown, blue collar, country boy from French Lick who went on to star at Indiana State, leading the team to the historic 1979 NCAA championship game where it lost to Michigan State and Magic Johnson.
After that loss, “Bird took that ring and threw it up into the stands,” teammate Carl Nicks told IndyStar. “He said, ‘I don’t want that ring. We didn’t win it.'” Indiana loves Bird and his relentless drive for victory.
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From Indiana State, Bird went on to become one of the NBA’s most legendary figures with the Boston Celtics. After his playing career, he took a job as a special assistant in the Celtics’ front office from 1992 until 1997. From there, he became Pacers coach turned president of basketball operations turned consultant in 2017.
But in July, after five years in that role, the team announced Bird had “stepped back from maintaining an active role with the Indiana Pacers.”
Yet just 10 months later, Bird is back and fans have plenty to say about that.
In the comments of the Pacers tweet, the love for Bird came on strong with some people responding simply with an emoji of a goat (GOAT, greatest of all time). Others posted celebratory GIFs.
Still others, opined with words.
“This is where he belongs.”
“Even as a “Consultant”, Larry Legend will teach those players about work ethic and simply putting in the time. Guaranteed…!!!”
“We need his masters presence!”
“Wicked smart move.”
But as often happens on social media, the naysayers chimed in.
Of course, those who really know Bird marvel at his basketball IQ and genius. Take his time as Pacers coach.
Bird took the helm at Indiana in 1997 with no coaching experience and led the team to its best NBA record at the time, 58–24. It was a season that ended taking the Chicago Bulls to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals and Bird being named the NBA Coach of the Year.
In his final season with the Pacers, Bird took the team to the 2000 NBA Finals.
In 2003, Bird was hired as the Pacers’ president of basketball operations, and in 2012 Bird was named NBA Executive of the Year, becoming the only person in the league’s history to win the NBA MVP, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Larry Bird returns to Indiana Pacers as a consultant